E-Voting: Not so much

Paper Ballots Touted as Most Secure
The Denver Post (12/02/08) Ingold, John

Colorado’s Election Reform Commission discussed the reliability of electronic-voting machines during a recent meeting. Voting-machine expert and Rice University professor Dan Wallach addressed the state officials, county clerks, and elections experts charged with improving the state’s elections policies and said e-voting machines are vulnerable to tampering.

“In terms of the systems that are available today, hand-marked paper ballots counted by scanners are the best technology,” Wallach said.

Some of the largest counties in the state are using e-voting machines, but many counties still rely primarily on paper-ballot voting. More county clerks have begun to make security an issue, said Paul Craft, an expert in voting-machine certification.

“You simply cannot continue to operate systems out there that cannot be secured,” Craft said. U.S. Election Assistance Commission Chairwoman Rosemary Rodriguez said her agency is in the process of creating stronger voting-machine security standards.

NJ E-Voting machines easily hackable

Princeton Report Rips N.J. E-Voting Machines as Easily Hackable
Computerworld (10/27/08) Weiss, Todd R.

Electronic-voting machines used in New Jersey and elsewhere are unreliable and potentially prone to hacking, concludes a new report from Princeton University and other groups. The 158-page report was ordered by a New Jersey judge as part of an ongoing dispute over the machines.

The e-voting machines can be “easily hacked” in about seven minutes by anyone with basic computer knowledge, according to the report. The vulnerability could enable fraudulent firmware to steal votes from one candidate and give them to another. The machines can be hacked by installing fraudulent software contained in a replacement chip that can be installed on the main circuit board, which would be very difficult to detect, the report says.

The major problem is that there are numerous opportunities in the storage, distribution, and deployment of the machines where an unauthorized person could access and manipulate them without being detected.  Princeton University Andrew Appel, one of the authors of the report, says that such vulnerabilities cast doubts about the accuracy and reliability of the machines.

A group of public interest organizations are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the state of New Jersey, arguing that the machines should be discarded because they cannot meet state election law requirements for security and accuracy. State officials who support the machines say they are adequate for the job.


I think it’s interesting that I immediately think that the Republicans would hack the voting machines.  Leftover Watergate paranoia bias?